Tag Archives: humor

Really Lost in Translation (like seriously, way, way out there lost)

One night we were walking down the street in Tokyo when a group of Japanese teenagers passed by. They looked like proper enough young lads, dressed in jeans and button down shirts. They were carrying backpacks and school books and I suspected that they were on their way home from a long night of group study. Then Steve and Sebastien started laughing uncontrollably. At first I couldn’t understand why. But then I noticed the hat that one of the lads was wearing, which read EAT SHIT! across the front. The poor kid didn’t even have a clue.

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That’s the thing with Japan. The country is rife with horrible, horrible English translations. A young girl we passed in a train station was wearing a hat that read I ❤ Haters, another woman carried a bag that said Tits & Co. in the style of Tiffany & Co. If there’s a vulgar English word, you better believe it has been stitched onto a t-shirt or backpack or baseball cap in Japan. There are probably factories throughout the country mass-producing Valentine’s Day gifts with the words Cunt or Jackass printed across the top just so a young Japanese man can show his special someone that he really cares, in English. Or maybe the Japanese just don’t understand the significance of having a word or phrase plastered across your chest. Americans sure do and they wear their words with pride.

When we were boarding the subway in Osaka I made eye contact with a big black man. When you’re in a foreign country, its comforting to see someone who looks familiar, and most people get really excited. On several occasions Sebastien and I were greeted with a nod from a white or black person, desperate to speak and share in the common bond of not having taken a normal shit in a week.

This man was no different. Once I acknowledged his presence he began shaking his head uncontrollably. Words spewed out of his mouth like a volcano erupting. “Hi, how are you, how do you like it here?” He continued to ask questions without giving us a moment to answer. “Where are you guys from?” he said. Before I could respond he answered for us. “Texas?”

“No,” I said. The only reason he could have thought that was because of my sweater, which said Texas. I bought it because I was cold while waiting for a plane in Lubbock a few years ago. It’s the only sweater I own and I don’t understand why people automatically assume I come from there just because I wear it. Who wears a sweater from the place they are from anyway, except for Canadian backpackers? Most people don’t even like the place where they were born. When I was a kid growing up in Florida I lied and told people I was born in California because I didn’t want to be from there. And no offense Texas, but the sweater doesn’t really attract the right caliber of people.

As we made our way through the country and I kept getting the nod from fellow foreigners, I thought about turning the sweater inside out. I have nothing wrong with the place, I just didn’t want to be mislabeled like the boy who had pussy written on his t-shirt.

 

One night when we were back in New York, we were having dinner with our neighbors, Mike and Tammy. Mike was wearing his Tennessee t-shirt. He told us how he ran into a man at Whole Foods Market who saw his shirt and stopped him because he also went to Tennessee State University. The two chatted for a while and knowing Mike and his kindness, they probably made plans to barbecue together.

“I run into people who went to Tennessee State all the time in this city,” he said with pride.

“I have a Texas sweater and bums are the only people that stop me on the street,” I said.


Hat Tip

I had planned on returning from Japan with an authentic kimono, a life-size Maneki neko (happy cat) and platters of Japanese food plastic replicas to trick my friends when they came over for dinner. But those items weren’t going to fit in my Jansport backpack. So I decided on getting a summer hat. I figured I could fold it up and toss it in a pouch without a problem. The last summer hat I had was made from a fake fur collar that I took off my corduroy jacket to wrap around my head. It wasn’t really a summer hat, although one could argue that the hole in the middle provided a cooling effect to the top of my head. I only wore it to get into the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris for free on Ladies’ Day. At the ticket counter the vendor asked to see my chapeau. I pointed to the bird’s nest atop my head and restrained myself from feverishly scratching at my scalp. “I’m wearing it,” I said. The man shook his head, but I insisted that it was a hat. “Almost,” he said, and finally agreed to let me in.

This time was going to be different, though. There were no tricks up my sleeve. I just wanted a hat. When I mentioned it to Sebastien he suggested that I buy a rice picker hat so I could start a new fashion trend in New York City. I suspected that Sebastien had a limited knowledge of fashion trends and laughed it off, certain that those hats remained in another century.

I was wrong. One morning we were walking down the street in Kyoto when we passed in front of a store with a rack of rice picker hats that called to Sebastien. “Look, here it is,” he said, taking one and placing it on my head. His eyes sparkled. A husband couldn’t have been prouder and I couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t actually serious about wearing the hat. By the looks of it, the thing wasn’t fashionable or even comfortable.

We stood in the doorway for too long because a woman inside of the store began walking towards us. Sebastien pulled out his wallet and the next thing I knew I was the proud owner of the most ridiculous hat (aside from the aforementioned fake hat, of course). ricepickerhat I wore that hat around all day because I had no other choice. It was so big and inflexible that I couldn’t just crumple it up and toss it in my backpack. If I hung it off my back the chin strap choked me and if I held it in my hand I couldn’t reach my camera to snap photos. I quickly started to regret the purchase. I had to lug this flying saucer all over the country from shinkensan to subway, from ryokan to rokka [locker]. It was like a pimple that just wouldn’t go away. I would have thrown it out, but the Japanese don’t believe in garbage cans on street corners. (Surprisingly it was incredibly clean though.)

On the last few days of our trip however, I started to get compliments. A young woman who looked to be in her early twenties approached me in a train station.  “Where did you get that?” she said, pointing to my hat. Her voice shook with desperation. “From a store on the street,” I said and considered just handing it to her. She turned to her friends, a group of backpackers from North America. “She got it on the street,” she yelled, running back to them.

Then, at a hotel in Tokyo, a clerk admired the fine craftsmanship of the hat while placing our belongings behind their concierge desk. “Wow you do not see this hat anywhere,” she said. Very nice.” I beamed with pride at my burden.

I was beginning to think that the hat was a good investment and imagined wearing it around town when I returned home. Maybe I would show it off at a Broadway show or treat it to a stroll through Central Park. But I was reminded of its bulk as I tried to shove it in the overhead compartment on our return flight. I knew if I wore the thing on the subway during rush hour that only one of us was actually going to squeeze on. The hat was just too big for any city.

When we got home I couldn’t even find a proper place to hang it in our tiny apartment. I placed on top of the living room lamp until I cleaned out some clothes in the closet. That’s when it hit me that the hat made a perfect lampshade.


Jesus on the Temple Trail

Kyoto_shrine

When we awoke in Kyoto, Steve, our fearless leader (a.k.a. the only person who took the time to figure out what there was to do in the city) took us on a trail of temples and shrines. First stop was the Tainai-meguri, the womb of a goddess. No, really. At first I thought it was just a bad English translation. But after giving two coins to a Japanese man, he pointed to a stairwell that descended into complete darkness.

“What is this, what’s going on?” I called out hoping someone would respond in English. Sebastien was ahead of me and told me to just hold onto the railway as I walked.

“Are we in the womb?” I said.

“Yes.”

“At least there’s no blood in here,” I said. All things considered it wasn’t as grotesque as I thought it would be. And I’ve seen some disgusting stuff including my own birth. It was an accident. I was playing hookey from school one day and rummaged through my parents’ VHS tapes for something to watch. One of the tapes had my name on it so I thought it’d be fun to check out. It was not. My dad must’ve been positioned right behind the doctor and he made full use of the zoom feature on the camera.

We finally reached a glowing rock and Sebastien told me to make a wish. Technically to make the wish come true I had to spin in either direction. I didn’t want to so I just made the wish and walked out. My wish came true anyway because seconds later we were back outside. “I could get used to these gods,” I said. “They actually listen.”

From there we skipped through the cherry blossoms from shrine to shrine making wishes. I gave my suffering to a piece of paper that I threw into a bowl of water and I gave my knee pain to an ox (although I accidentally rubbed his balls instead of his knees like I was supposed to).

We stopped at Jishu Shrine, the home of the god of love and matchmaking and watched as tourists attempted to secure success in love by walking from one stone to another with their eyes closed.

It was a full morning. But by 11am, my knee was hurting and all I really wanted was an ice cream. But there was no god or goddess for that.

We walked down the steps along Chawan-zaka or Teapot Lane, looking in the various souvenir and tea shops along the way on the hunt for a late morning snack. I saw tourists with ice cream, which momentarily rekindled my faith. But I got distracted and photobombed some Chinese tourists dressed as geishas.

photobombing

I figured if the people didn’t like it, they could make a wish to the photoshop god.


Killer Kitten Needs a Good Home

Sebastien and I have been fostering kittens since we adopted our cat Siegfried. We got him from a woman who runs a non-profit organization that rescues stray cats. She needed some help with temporary homes for the animals and we thought it would be a fun service.

Usually when we receive a new foster kitten, it’s a mangy, stinky, ball of fur that can’t tell it’s tail from its nose. Siegfried mothers it for a while and then the kitten enters what I’d like to call Siegfried’s School of Etiquette. In SSE, kittens learn how to not beg for food or steal food off of plates, how to clean themselves, how to be playful but professional, and much much more.

The foster kitten that we have now is failing all of her classes. Her name is Bridgette and she has wreaked havoc on our humble home. She bites, she hisses, she pisses on our furniture and will attack anything that breathes. She shows no remorse for her actions.

And she’s in need of a good home. Because we can’t take it anymore.

Looking for a little fur ball to cuddle up with on the couch? You’ve come to the wrong place. Bridgette will go after every limb on your body like its a piece of catfish. She won’t rub up against your leg when you’re standing around the house. She’ll attack it, and dig her claws into your thigh.

Planning on getting a new couch for the living room? You can also plan on Bridgette urinating all over it. She’s just does it once though, to remind people that she can do whatever she wants.

Have other pets at home in need of a companion? Bridgette loves to play with other animals, mostly sinking her teeth into their necks or sneaking up on them while they’re sleeping. And you can forget about sleeping, too. Bridgette will keep you awake all night, bouncing on your stomach and attaching anything that is under the blanket.

Think you can just put her in the cage for the night? Think again. Bridgette’s meow can reach about 98dB–that’s as loud as a hand drill.

But she’s really cute.

Bridgette

 

When she’s not in kill mode.

 

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Reflections on Reflections

Our cat Siegfried recently discovered his own reflection in the dishwasher. We’ve had him for three years so I’m not quite sure what took him so long. He is a cat of course so some delay is excusable. But now that Sigs found his reflection, he’s obsessed with himself. The cat no longer reacts to food or cat treats or even pieces of dental floss dangled in front of his head. He never comes to me when I call him anymore, but I guess he never did that anyway. He did love greeting me at the door or running up to the window when I would get really excited because there was a pigeon on a tree in our backyard. But he doesn’t care about any of that now.  He is enthralled by himself and will sit in front of the dishwasher for hours, bobbing his head around, no doubt to check out his reflection in various angles.

SigssovainWhen I first noticed it a few weeks ago, I decided that the cat probably got it from Sebastien because of all the selfies on his phone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as narcassistic as they come. But I don’t want other people to know. So I take selfies, admire them for a short period of time, and delete them.  If I get hit by a car, again, (it happened before the days of cellphones) imagine how they would eulogize me if they found a cellphone full of nothing but pictures that I took of myself.

“We are gathered here to mourn the passing of Amy, who to our knowledge and based off of her photos, never spent time with anyone but herself, sitting or standing in various poses around her apartment.”

I just delete them that way my conscience is clear. Taking selfies has become a part of society and there’s really nothing wrong with it, but I sometimes get embarrassed by my habits.

I used to hide other idiosyncrasies from Sebastien like picking my nose or watching re-runs of the same TV show over and over and over ad nauseam. For example, every season of The Office is available on Netflix streaming. So sometimes I would watch a bunch of the same episodes that I’d already seen hundreds of times before. Before Sebastien got home each night, I would sit in front of the TV starting and stopping some other random shows so that those shows would appear in the ‘recently viewed’ window on Netflix and he would have no clue that I spent my afternoon watching a show that I can recite word-for-word. It was tiring. I eventually had to get over it and come clean. And Sebastien’s fine with it.

Married life is all about accepting the other person for who they are. The longer the two of us stay together, the more we peel back another layer of the mask that we present to the world to reveal who we truly are, warts and all.  I just hope that the unravelling continues at a slow pace. Hpefully, by the time we know absolutely everything about the other person, we’ll have no choice but to accept it because we’ll be too old and too lazy to go looking for someone else.


I’ll be there for you

I was never much of a Friends fan. It was on one of the only TV stations we had access to when I was in rehab back in 2000, so I had seen a number of the episodes then. Other than that though, the show wasn’t for me. It was too cheerful and optimistic. Much like other cynics of my day, I preferred watching Seinfeld and South Park and mocking late-night infomercials.

But I found myself watching Friends last Saturday night in a hotel room in Philadelphia. I was there for the night to support a friend who was auditioning for The Voice. We had to be up by 6am Sunday to get in line at the convention center so we were in bed by 10. I took an Advil PM to help me get to sleep. As I lay there waiting for it to kick in, I became acutely aware of the pain in my lower back that had been bothering me for the past week and I started to worry that my kidney was failing. (There’s an even longer story there that started with webmd.) Perhaps I had taken too much Advil PM over the past few weeks to deal with said back pain, I wondered. Google confirmed my fears that the overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could lead to kidney problems. So it was off to the races.

Once the anxiety kicked in I started urinating like crazy. I went to the bathroom every 5 minutes. (Another symptom of kidney problems.) Then the fear started and I had images of an ambulance carrying me to the hospital and me imploring my friend to go on with her audition. “You can visit me in ICU after the surgery,” I imagined saying.

Before I dialed 9-1-1, I thought I’d check in with Sebastien, because I didn’t want him to be alarmed when he received the phone call from the hospital at 3am. I told him my symptoms and that I had acute kidney failure and was probably going to die that evening.

He’s taken calls like this from me before, usually when I’m afraid someone is going to try and kill me. Sometimes I’ll even ask him to call me when I’m out reporting a story just make sure that I’m alive if I am going to an unfamiliar place or interviewing a suspicious person. He has never once said no to making or taking these phone calls. And just like the other times, when I phoned Sebastien Saturday night, he very calmly and lovingly talked me through the anxiety. He suggested that since I wasn’t in any acute pain, I wait until morning to schedule a doctor’s appointment. “But I might be dead by then,” I said. He reminded me that my symptoms were mild. We talked for a few more minutes until what he was saying started to make sense. He suggested that I enjoy watching some TV since we don’t have that luxury at home. Whenever I’m on vacation I love nothing more than parking myself in front of the TV and watching re-runs of Full House or Saved By The Bell for hours and hours. So that’s what I did.

I hung up the phone, meditated for a few minutes, then turned on the TV. I clicked through a few channels before settling on an episode of Friends. The blonde girl was pregnant and always hungry and the other girl with the haircut that everyone liked in the 90s was desperate to get some guy to pay attention to her. It was so cheesy and predictable. And I laughed and laughed. It was exactly what I needed to calm down before bed. I guess sometimes cheesy things are good. [Cue sappy music like when Danny Tanner is moralizing to DJ] And it’s nice to know that I married a man who is there for me through my paranoia and anxiety. I bet if there were good words that rhymed with paranoia and anxiety, The Rembrandts would have sang that song instead.


Some Jokes Never Get Old

Friday night we took the subway to Recette, a posh restaurant in the West Village. We tried to blend in with the classy patrons: I wore a dress and clean socks and Sebastien combed his hair. I threw out my only topic of conversation during the subway ride to the restaurant so I was completely out of ideas. We occupied some time trying to decide on what to order and settled on the 7 course tasting menu.

While we waited for our food to arrive, I was sucking down water like crazy. Fortunately Sebastien likes to talk so I let him entertain arguments against raising the minimum wage and discuss criminal indictments at his old firm. I interjected with an uh huh or wow every now and then, but I’m sure he would have done fine if he were eating alone.

As each new plate of food arrived I could sense him tiring of carrying the conversation. Things went silent around the fifth course. I started to get nervous, which in my case means that my body acts out in strange ways. Not knowing what to say I grabbed Sebastien’s hand and leaned into the table to whisper in his ear. “I farted,” I said. We both started laughing and that’s when I knew it was going to be all right.

Hard_farting_little_girl_by_Basher_the_Basilisk

 

 


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